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Sturgeon will ‘fully co-operate’ with Salmond misconduct allegations probe

The First Minister has written to MSPs investigating how the Scottish Government handled complaints against her predecessor.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Jane Barlow/PA)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Jane Barlow/PA)

Nicola Sturgeon has restated her pledge to “fully co-operate” with a Holyrood committee set up to probe how misconduct allegations against former first minister Alex Salmond were handled.

The current First Minister wrote to MSPs on the committee to make clear she would comply with their requests of her.

Her letter came at the same time as Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans stressed to MSPs the Scottish Government has “robust records management practice”.

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Former first minister Alex Salmond. (Jane Barlow/PA)

The Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints was set up in February after a court ruling in January that the Scottish Government’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations against the former first minster was “unlawful”.

Salmond later appeared in court charged with 14 offences, including two of attempted rape, insisting afterwards he denies “absolutely these allegations of criminality”.

Questions have been asked about meetings and telephone conversations between Ms Sturgeon and her predecessor.

But in her letter to MSPs, she pledged: “I can confirm that I will comply with the committee’s requests and as previously indicated, I intend to fully co-operate with the committee and its inquiry.”

With the committee also having raised concerns that some documents could have been automatically deleted from the Scottish Government’s computer storage system, Ms Evans confirmed she had stepped in to halt this process for a number of individuals linked to the inquiry.

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Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government Leslie Evans (left) with Nicola Sturgeon. (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“I have taken the additional step of instructing the halting of the automated deletion system in respect of specific people,” the Permanent Secretary wrote.

“This ensures an even wider scope of information will be available to the inquiry when it commences than would be the case under our normal practice.”

She also made clear that automatic deletion only applied to documents not saved on to corporate record system.

Ms Evans, Scotland’s most senior civil servant, said: “There is therefore no risk that relevant information kept as part of the corporate record has been automatically deleted.”

Documents relating to the judicial review Salmond brought against the Government have “also been preserved”, she confirmed.

She told MSPs: “I hope this letter offers further assurance to the committee about the Scottish Government’s compliance with robust records management practice as well as an understanding of further steps that have been taken to safeguard additional information.”

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